Where War Ends
A Combat Veteran’s 2,700-Mile Journey to Heal―Recovering from PTSD and Moral Injury through Meditation
Tom Voss and Rebecca Anne Nguyen
New World Library, Novato, California, 2019, 288 pages
Book Review published on: April 30, 2021
Where War Ends: A Combat Veteran’s 2,700-Mile Journey to Heal―Recovering from PTSD and Moral Injury through Meditation is a personal account of what Tom Voss, a scout-sniper in the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, encountered when he returned from Iraq after a twelve-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He wrote this book with his sister, Rebecca Nguyen, who is a writer and an award-winning screenwriter.
The book refers to the emotional turmoil that one can experience after witnessing and engaging in combat as something more than posttraumatic stress disorder. Voss refers to it as a “moral injury” due to “the memory of doing or witnessing things that went against his fundamental belief.” Where War Ends describes in detail how Voss felt when he returned home from Mosul, Iraq, the ways he sought help, and how he tried to dull the pain. It then walks the reader through his decision to embark on a 2,700-mile walk with fellow veteran and friend, Anthony, and the book traces the entire trek.
Voss titled the walk the “Veteran Trek,” and the whole trip was filmed as a documentary by National Geographic and received an Emmy nomination. The trek started in Milwaukee and went to the Pacific Ocean. The writer describes how by the end of his incredible journey, he felt like Forrest Gump when people joined in supportively as they neared the finish line.
Throughout their expedition, Voss and Anthony stopped along the way to see people they once knew, to meet new veteran friends, and to encounter Native American healers who taught them unique and natural ways to get past their pain and despair. Voss credits learning meditation and sacred, but simple, breathing techniques as responsible for his breakthrough and for giving him hope and healing.
Upon completion of the journey, Voss proceeds to describe how he continued to train himself in meditation and breathing techniques, allowing for continued healing as he reset his mind and replaced the previous war images. This led him to inspiration and to a role in advocacy.
Where War Ends is well written, incredibly interesting, and real. The author’s voice is authentic and raw as he openly describes both the emotions he went through and the tangible details of his search for healing.
Where War Ends’s target audience is those who have served in the military, and their families and friends, especially those who struggle after they return from combat and look for tangible ways to get past the trauma they experienced. Where War Ends provides these readers with hope and tangible ways to get through their struggles, utilizing techniques a war veteran may not have discovered on his or her own journey. Any reader who enjoys a story about people rising above their circumstances, overcoming struggles, and hope and healing can also appreciate this book.
Book Review written by: Rodney S. Morris, EdD, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas